The company, which famously uses the “because you’re worth it” advertising slogan, sought an all-white team of sales staff to promote its hair product Fructis Style. According to The Times, L’Oréal asked for its hostesses to be BBR – “bleu, blanc, rouge” – the colours of the French flag and a code for white French people.
Entrepreneurs have slammed the beauty brand for its racist outlook: “This episode might have happened 30 years ago, when people were chucking bananas at footballer John Barnes, but L’Oréal has no excuse in the modern era,” says Rik Hellewell, founder of professional oven-valeting firm Ovenu. “In my opinion, L’Oréal should have the book thrown at it.”
“What was L’Oréal thinking?” asks Mark Mason, chief executive of mobile application developer, Mubaloo. “I suspect it wasn’t thinking at all. Fortunately these cases are few and far between in most companies. As an entrepreneur, I have the tendency to do the exact opposite and enjoy employing a diversity of cultures in my firms. This has always created a more vibrant and culturally aware environment, which only goes to enhance the business.
“Yes, France has some pretty unwieldy employment laws which have stifled entrepreneurship but I think this case says more about the L’Oréal establishment and its inability to change with the times than it does about France’s employment laws. I suspect L’Oréal will only suffer a fine and a slapped wrist for its misdemeanors – but I suspect its brand will suffer far more.”
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